In these days, when English girls are ever seeking new fields of labour, perhaps some may be glad to know that there is an opening for good English "children's nurses" in Paris. The days of the English governess are quite over. Most people send their children to cours, or classes, and keep a French or German governess to help them with their home work, to take them out, and to be present at any lessons given by visiting professors at the house.
The cause of this change is, perhaps, that the German has greater facility for acquiring foreign languages, and is willing to work for a lower salary, fewer holidays, and less time to herself than the English girl demands. She is also more clever at making other people recognise her value.
The English girl seldom knows how to make other people think the most of her, and she invariably speaks a very faulty French with a marked British accent. And so it has come about that the French people prefer their children to learn English as babies, partly for the above reasons, and partly because the English way of bringing them up is recognised as healthier and more successful.
How to Obtain a Situation as Nurse in France
The best way, of course, is through a friend who has already tried it, or one who happens to be in Paris, or to write to Mrs. Collyer, Girls' Friendly Society Lodge, 50, Avenue d'lena, Paris. There is also an English Home in the Avenue Wagram, where English girls can stay for moderate terms, and are assisted in finding situations. Or, again, there is the Young Women's Christian Association, Rue de Milan.
Failing these, there is Mrs. Hooper's agency, 13, Regent Street, London. Mrs. Hooper makes a point of finding out about the families to which the nurse is to go. Should the references be unsatisfactory, the names are not placed on her books. No girl is allowed to leave England unless the references are satisfactory.
It is best that a nurse should have had at least a year's training in a children's hospital or other training (see page 340, Every Woman's Encyclopaedia), for she must know what to do in illness, especially if part of the year is passed in a country place, where a doctor is not nearer than six miles, and then often very inexperienced.
How much weight should be put on each week;
How to keep the wardrobe in order;
How to iron out a fragile muslin frock.
She should be thoroughly healthy and strong, bright, and of an agreeable appearance.
She should know how to be firm in a nice way.
She should be tactful, and, if possible, have a certain knowledge of kindergarten, and be able to give the child its lessons until its eighth or tenth year.
Salaries to be Expected
Salaries vary very much, from £30 to £60 a year, with or without uniform, according to arrangement, though the latter figure is, of course, rare. Besides this, most nurses get a month's wages as a Christmas present; a louis (20 frs.) from the mother and the grandparents for baby's first tooth, another for the first word, and a third when baby walks. If this important little person is fortunate enough to possess a grandmamma on both sides, this custom means about £7 a year difference to the nurse, at least during the first and second years.
Unless the English nurse happens to know these things, they are apt to be overlooked, for the French are ever ready to fall into English customs, and are a most economical nation. If the English nurse speaks French, and can see the laundress, counting with her her own and the baby's washing, the laundress allows her a halfpenny in every tenpence spent, as does also the cleaner. If she cannot speak French, all this is arranged by the lady's-maid, who, of course, takes the benefit.
Where there is only one baby, the nurse will be obliged to do everything for herself except sweep and dust the nursery. This is generally done by one of the men-servants, who sweep and dust the bedrooms.
Usually there is only one nursery, and sometimes the nurse is obliged to have her meals brought to her there. But often a room is found for her near to the dining-room, and she takes her meals there at the same time as the family, a maid looking after the baby meanwhile.
Apart from this, and the fact that she will be served with a foreign breakfast at eight o'clock, and lunch at 12 or 12.30, she will be able to arrange her day as she would in
Nurses in France do not get an evening out as they do in England, and they only have a fortnight's holiday once in two years.
They often have difficulty at first with the servants, who think nothing of running into the nursery when baby cries to see what is the matter, or even of picking him out of his cot to kiss him, but all this is avoided if nurse knows the language.
Irish girls generally find it easier to get situations in France, because they are considered more adaptable and of brighter dispositions than their English sisters, and also because they are often Roman Catholics. For, although there are many Protestants, most of the old French families are Catholic. Whatever the religion of the nurse, she will always be able to go to her own particular church on Sundays.
The profession of children's nurse is quite as well paid as teaching, and the wage-earning period lasts longer.
If the nurse possess tact, and knows how to make herself liked, she generally becomes part of the family, looking after the children as they grow up, and often stays on until the youngest girl is married; in fact, often taking the place of the French and German governess met with in other houses.